Case story: Positive Culture, part 2

Kanna Krishnan is a “positive agent” and holds a senior position in Human Resources. He is tasked with developing a progressive culture for BTC. That’s why he used the Organizational Culture Assessment Instrument (OCAI) and followed the Positive Culture Academy, as explained in part 1.

BTC dreamed and defined their preferred positive culture and ways to stimulate Positive Awareness, Connection and Collaboration, Learning and Autonomy, and Shared Purpose and Meaning. That sounds wonderful, but how could they do it?

How to develop a positive culture?

Kanna Krishnan continues: “I explored several options after joining the Positive Culture Academy. We could deploy another OCAI culture survey and check our current workplace against the Positive Culture Checklist. We could organize training about the Academy’s Positive Manifesto and how to become a positive agent. This would be voluntary, for those who are interested.

I consider organizing a Senior Leaders Training on Positive Leadership. It would be crucial for them to learn “How to Be Positive” and “How to see People as People” as taught in the Academy. This would be mandatory, as senior leaders must upgrade their attitude and leadership style to make this transition.

Another option is a BTC Culture Day to share the findings of the OCAI culture survey, the Positive Culture Checklist and to work on public commitment to change key values and behaviors.
Last but not least, we could start Change Circles of 10 to foster dialogue and solve obstacles while developing a positive work culture at BTC.”

Change Circles open the discussion

“We started with one voluntary Change Circle because it helps people to bond with co-workers and obtain personal support. It also stimulates ownership and allows people to commit to key behaviors.

The BTC Change Circle convenes for 2 hours on Friday, twice a month. Participation is open to anyone who is interested in making a positive change in the organization. The attendees are mostly middle-level supervisors from various departments.

We elect a different chairman for each meeting and re-instate the rules of engagement that we agreed on in the first meeting to keep the space “safe” for everyone to contribute.
So far, we have looked at our OCAI culture profile to understand our current culture and our typical behaviors. We explore behaviors for the preferred Create culture type; how could we enhance learning and autonomy while still working together and towards our shared goals?

As a result, I see a more open discussion about issues in meetings, compared to the silence and ask-an-answer attitude we had before. That is progress.”

Ongoing Learning and Positive Tea

“We also invited people from another department to join our monthly department meeting. It was a great experience as they shared their insights. We came up with new ideas that we implement in our respective departments. For instance, we now have an idea box for suggestions, and one of the executed ideas is a reward for interdepartmental team efforts.

We organized a Positive Tea Meeting to share more about what positivity means on a monthly basis. It’s inspiring. A senior leader and an HR professional always attend, and people have shared, for instance, how they improve their work, but also how teams enhance their cohesiveness.

Personally, I am still working on adopting the Positive Organic Mindset. I realize during our bi-weekly meetings that it’s crucial to focus on people’s potential and what is already working well. I’m still learning.”

  • What is your organization doing to develop a (more) positive culture?

Thank you for sharing your story, Kanna!

Do you want to learn more about developing a positive culture? Join this Positive Culture Academy. Go to the enroll page and start the change! The curriculum can be done self-paced and with others, as you wish. Help your team or organization develop its positive potential.

© Marcella Bremer and Kanna Krishnan, 2018. All rights reserved.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Anthony Tribolet

    Throughout my graduate studies in the Science of Leadership, I have turned away from the terms like “positive culture” because they project to the readers and future leaders a euphoric and utopian fantasy of what business management is. Empowering others is the basic principles of the positive culture environment but the better term is “Realistic Culture”. Empowering others and creating leaders is the stronghold of a military training. First developed in the military, leadership is a vital component to group adhesion and mission sharing that leads to success. Taking my cues from my military experience, I studied the effects of positive cultural leadership as part of my graduate degree and discovered through interviews that the “realistic leader was far more revered than one that projects a sense of false security. The problem with the illusion of positive cultures is that empowering others serves the overall mission of the organization and in some realms, especially Kantian Ethics this is still unethical as the means are justifying the ends and can be seen as condescending and patronizing; depending on the social perspectives. History is fraught with leaders that have misused self-efficacy to escalating not minimize a conflict environment. Harvard Business Review contributing author and author of the book: The Talent Delusion, Thomas Chammarro-Premuzic explains how organizations can threatened when leaders are narcissistic and unaware of their own limitations. As part of my Master’s Thesis, I had compared the leadership behaviors between the private sector and the military sector and discovered that the military’s approach of “realistic leadership” is far more relatable to followers.

    Authentic or servant leadership styles become indisposed with grandiose self-awareness in the positive cultural environment, fearing failure and image depletion by converting authentic leadership into a pseudo-transformational leadership style. This point is addressed with a thought experiment: “Would one be more apt to follow a leader that stood on a ridge overlooking an army that vastly outnumbered his/her own but still maintained a belief that the day could be won, or would it be more appropriate for the leader to recognize failure and change his/her strategy?”

    Even though the outcomes of this Positive Culture Creation is attractive on the leading edge, it allows for too many variances from the desired path. However terms such as Pragmatic, Realistic, or Realistic-Pragmatic is far more honest with desired outcomes; i.e. effective employees to serve the greater purpose.

    Chamarro-Premuzic, T. March 29, 2017, How to tell leaders they aren’t as great as they think they are, Harvard Business Review. Retrieved; 0/18/2018.

    1. Marcella Bremer

      I appreciate your comment! Agreed, the term “positive” has many connotations. There could be misunderstandings and that’s too bad. Fake positive or not realistic is not what I mean with positive. Positive organizational scholarship (POS) is my theoretical basis (University of Michigan, Ross School of Business) and it’s based on positive psychology. You might like my book to learn more, also about the Ego of leaders, and about being firm, authentic, and realistic while acting from a positive mindset. Please see

  2. Writer David

    The biggest question is always how meetings, workshops and other events about change or about positivity translate into daily working routines and situations. One’s daily tasks are not about change or positivity. These are characteristics to apply to everything else. Bridging from discussing these characteristics in safe places to applying them in all other places takes a special talent. Some people can do it; others can’t. Developing a strategy to implement these characteristics is critical.

    1. Marcella Bremer

      Agreed, David! The next step is to walk the talk. This is best done together, so that it doesn’t depend on individuals. The question is: how will we do this as a team? Now what?